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Jagir and Nirali Mankodi took a career break in 2016 to go backpacking but, little did they know, the trip would soon “change their lives forever”. Express.co.uk spoke to the founders of Superfoodio to find out how they managed to turn £5,000 into a business “on track” to turn over half a million pounds.
Venturing across to South America, Mr and Mrs Mankodi thought their plant-based diets would present something of a challenge when dining out.
Instead, Mr Mankodi said they discovered how the local people lived off the earth in a sustainable manner, thinking “generations ahead”.
He continued: “Coming back wanting to share the knowledge, we devoted ourselves to the kitchen to create delicious, nutritious, all-natural treats and from there Superfoodio was born.”
The first product the couple launched was “Cacao Clusters” in 2017, which Mr Mankodi described as “an instant success”. From there, vegan peanut butter chocolate bars were born and soon became the flagship product, and in 2021, Superfoodio achieved a milestone.
Mr Mankodi said: “We were proud to achieve a milestone on our entrepreneur journey with the launch of peanut butter buttons, a world-first product in the food industry developed from scratch. Our family loves peanut butter and we wanted a simpler way to enjoy peanut buttery goodness on the go but the problem with a jar or a squeezy pack is that you always end up with sticky fingers and an oily mess, particularly not fun when you have a toddler!
“That’s why we created our Peanut Butter Buttons that you can hold in your hand. They are the perfect snack to satisfy that peanut butter craving anywhere, anytime with no mess and no fuss.”
Mr Mankodi began working full-time on the venture straight away while Mrs Mankodi was working at ITV as a product owner. It wasn’t until 2018 that the couple decided to dedicate their full attention to the business after receiving traction in retail and launching with Selfridges.
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Mr Mankodi said: “We really didn’t start with much. It was probably about £5,000 from our savings, of which about half went to production and packaging and the rest we invested into branding, creating a website and basic marketing materials and various tech and utility needs that went into running the business.”
The first COVID-19 lockdown posed a particular challenge for the pair as high street shops closed and after sales dropped by a staggering 80 percent, they turned to Amazon to reinforce online sales instead.
Mr Mankodi said: “It helped us reach more customers and make up for the lack of high street sales during a challenging time. We actually launched our vegan peanut butter chocolate bars in November 2020 and thanks in part to being available on Amazon, we were able to see quickly how popular the product was with customers. We even saw a 119 percent growth month on month during that time.”
Now, Mr Mankodi added: “We’ve built a six-figure business and with a few exciting launches this year, we’re on track to hit half a million in turnover this year.”
According to the couple, selling on Amazon helped simplify the buying and selling experience.
Mr Mankodi said: “It put our products in front of millions of new customers and this not only saved us during the pandemic, but it also helped us grow as a business. My advice is to start simply and evolve as you grow.
“We also set up with Fulfilment by Amazon and it ensures our peanut butter chocolate bars and peanut butter buttons are able to reach our customers quickly and securely without us having to worry about the delivery process.”
The founder parted with a few tips for other budding entrepreneurs looking to get started on their own ventures.
He said: “Building a business can be tough but when it’s something you are truly passionate about, it makes it easier and justifies the hard times. While growing your business, you must also remember to grow your network because the entrepreneur journey can be lonely.”
Mr Mankodi added: “I feel lucky because Jagir and I are in it together but we always try to seize every networking opportunity that comes our way and appreciated those in our network who have advised us when we got things wrong.
“So, my advice is to get out there and meet like-minded businesspeople, whether in the same industry or beyond, as there is always something to learn along the way.”
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